A different perspective

Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on May 9, 2007

Sticking together…

I want to thank you for your responses to last week’s column. Your expressions of concern were incredibly thoughtful, and deeply appreciated. This week, I intended to return to strategic marketing communications issues, my usual turf, but then decided instead to provide a different perspective of the trip – that of my daughter, Bea (Bea has two dads, lucky girl, her birth father, and me.). A big part of communicating is understanding events from varying perspectives, so hopefully my decision to turn over the column this week, with permission from my editor, to Bea doesn’t stray too far from my communications brief. In Bea’s words,

“Most kids appreciate it (very much) when their parents go on long business trips or when they decide they want to go overseas on vacation. This usually means no curfews, long late-night-telephone calls, and parties – lots of them. Our dad was away on a sudden, sad trip to the United States last week because his dad, Grandpa Jerry, passed away. But this time, having one parental unit on a long trip was not appreciated, nor was it enjoyed, by any of the kids – and especially Mom.

“What happened when Dad was away? Simple. Apart from praying the rosary and the novena for the soul of Jerry Hamlin, we ran into some crazy moments in which Dad was needed and we had to deal with them alone.

“First, I was rushed to the hospital hyperventilating, for which I was given a whole bottle of Valium. Stress was the apparent cause. I’m still alive and kicking, but what happened before I was brought to the hospital was a test for everyone. Mom panicked (as usual) and my Lola’s blood pressure shot up, my brother Chris frantically startled our driver awake, and my younger brother Niccolo asked nervous questions that were left unanswered in the panic.

“The usual in-control and calm team player in any family situation (Dad) was thousands of miles away, and the one who bravely took on his role in emergency situations this time was my sister Cara who calmly got things ready, got me dressed, and called our dad, Mari, to meet us at Asian Hospital. She became Dad – consoling mom, keeping her calm, making sure things were done orderly and staying up as late as 3:00 AM to make sure that we got home safely.

“Second, Mom had to go with her staff on a company trip to Subic without Dad for that weekend. Since I was told to rest and Cara was in La Union on a separate beach trip, Niccolo had to take on Dad’s role as mom’s knight-in-shining armor a.k.a. The Bodyguard – and he did a great job. He made sure Mom had her seatbelt on the whole trip, he made sure she ate, and he regularly submitted reports to Dad as to what was happening.

Niccolo not only made sure Mom was not lonely, he also made Dad’s presence in that company outing felt by joining all of the games and asking the staff to treat him as “one of them.” He pitched in with strategy recommendations and game plans for the competitive sports and activities. Yes, Mr. Hamlin was indeed present in that trip – only he shrunk to about 5’.

“Third, Mom was away from the office most of the week because she had a busy consulting schedule for a client. So while she was away, Cara and I were branded as the new MIH (Monette Iturralde-Hamlin) and MAH (Michael Alan Hamlin) – a.k.a. the bosses. No, we did not sign the checks and we did not facilitate meetings, but we did sit in their office, encoding databases and calling participants for events. We answered phone calls, came in on time (even earlier), interacted with the staff, helped out with as a many tasks as we could, and made sure that we made sound reports for the Big Boss (Mom) when Mom got back to the office. Of course, we were in constant contact with Dad via email. Again, Mr. Hamlin’s presence in the workplace was also felt with us invading his work space and keeping an eye on the things he momentarily left while away.

“While away, the usually non-techie Mom made sure that Dad was able to talk with us via Skype, using webcams. The best experience was when we all gathered in the office for a “conference call” before Dad left for the airport to come back home.

“Dad’s sudden trip left us all empty inside since we knew he needed us during this sad moment of his life, but we couldn’t do anything because we were left back at home. Although it was hard trying to comfort Dad from miles away, we all did our part in making him feel loved – especially Mom. They say that families do really love each other and this love is seldom verbally expressed or shown. But in moments of tragedy, families stick together – this love is seen and is deeply felt.“

We may not have been there, physically, but all the e-mail messages, the conference calls, the text messages and the pictures shared over the net made up for the thousands of miles that separated us. It may have been a sudden sad trip, but amidst the sadness, we experienced how it is to stick together as a family, literally, through thick and thin. Now that is a different perspective.”

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